The 2019 World U24 Ultimate Championships kicked off today in Heidelberg Germany.
The day was filled with pride and excitement as teams piled into the fields to line up for the opening ceremonies. Despite some poor weather during the ceremonies, most teams stuck it out to enjoy some music and dancing before the showcase game.
Team Canada at the opening ceremony
Today was a relaxed day for me as I got to soak up the sights in the city and the atmosphere as the tournament finally got underway after months of preparation from teams and organizers alike.
As I enjoyed the day, I put together a list of three of my favourite moments from day one at WU24:
For a few hours today, some of the media crew was able to spend some time exploring the sights of Heidelberg; a beautiful and fun city, with an epic castle on top of a big hill that we admired from the bottom. The best part of the day was spent walking around the streets and running into ultimate players from all over the world. I had never met the majority of people we ran into, but there was an immediate appreciation of each other. There wasn’t always a conversation, but there was always a big smile and a wave—an acknowledgement of why we are all here: we love this beautiful, crazy sport.
As the day settled into the afternoon, players gathered with their teams in full uniform ready to march in the opening ceremonies. The build-up can be long as the players wait for the ceremonies to begin, but watching them throw, take photos, dance and sing as they waited with their teammates, and with their opponents is something special. I remember that feeling so fondly, everyone coming together as one. Almost a calm before the storm, as players try to leave their nerves behind and enjoy the moment of representing their country on the world stage.
The Dutch team is all smiles as they get ready for the parade
The weather steadily improved and the crowds gathered around all sides of the pitch to see the host country Germany take on Belgium in the women’s division. The showcase game itself was a blowout. It was a dominant performance from Germany, who still appeared to keep their cards close to their chest—resting star players like Levke Walczak, who only played a couple points in throughout the match. My favourite moment of the game came when Belgium called a timeout after going down 4-0 very early on.
The Belgians have a young team with not much Worlds experience among them, but they took this moment to show what a bright future they can have. Out of the timeout, they answered with a clean offensive hold—scoring what would be their one and only point of the game. Belgium rushed the field to celebrate as though they had won the match. While it was only one point, it was also the first point scored in history for the Belgium women at the WU24 Championships, with this being their first ever appearance at the tournament. It may not have appeared as much to those looking on, but for the Belgian’s that one point meant a lot. It is the start of their journey here in Heidelberg, and it showed us a glimpse of how they can respond to adversity going forward this week and in future events.
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